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March 20, 2022 6:21 am
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From Israel to Ukraine, Self-Reliance Is Key

avatar by Ben Cohen / JNS.org

Opinion

A Ukrainian serviceman holds a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launcher at fighting positions outside the city of Kharkiv, Ukraine February 24, 2022. Reuters/Maksim Levin

JNS.org – “The unrestrained assault by ___ military, police and paramilitary forces, under the direction of President ___, on ___ civilians has created a massive humanitarian catastrophe which also threatens to destabilize the surrounding region. Hundreds of thousands of people have been expelled ruthlessly from ___ by the ___ authorities. We condemn these appalling violations of human rights and the indiscriminate use of force by the ___ government.”

You could effortlessly insert the words “Russian,” “Putin,” “Ukrainian” and “Ukraine” into the blanks in the above statement. Actually, these words date back to April 1999, and the blanks are, in order, “Yugoslav,” “Milošević,” “Kosovar” and “Kosovo.” They are taken from the NATO statement that announced an unprecedented aerial war against the now-defunct Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).

It’s worth recalling why NATO went to war 23 years ago. As the same statement put it, “Hundreds of thousands of people have been expelled ruthlessly from Kosovo by the FRY authorities. We condemn these appalling violations of human rights and the indiscriminate use of force by the Yugoslav government. These extreme and criminally irresponsible policies, which cannot be defended on any grounds, have made necessary and justify the military action by NATO” (emphasis added).

By its own admission, NATO considered the systemic abuse of Albanians in Kosovo by the regime of President Slobodan Milošević to be a casus belli — justification of military action by the alliance. There was no disputing the reality on the ground in Kosovo, where Serb forces were carrying out bestial violations of human rights, but wars are rarely if ever fought on purely ethical grounds.

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The questions raised by such a position are fiendishly complex: If we were willing to risk our forces to fight for the human rights of Albanians, why not Syrians, or Uyghurs? If we were willing to bypass the UN Security Council in order to wage our war in the name of human dignity, what precedents did we set that our adversaries could use later on? Would we have been as brazen about deploying our formidable military in defense of human rights if the Milosevic regime had been armed with nuclear weapons?

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